The pressure to improve yourself, your life, and your performance, 100% can be crippling.
Every day we are buried by memes and marketing that tell us that we need to be shooting for EXTRAORDINARY lives!
Every day we are told that the goal of improving our health is to become SUPERHUMAN!
Every day we are told that the goal of having or improving a relationship is to make our love life a PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR!
Whatever else you can say about our culture, it is not short on hyperbole— either in its language or its expectations.
Don’t get me wrong: I, too, love the fantasy that there are specific tools and skills that I can learn (let alone teach!) that will result in everyone having an EXTRAORDINARY life!
I too love the fantasy that by making tweaks to our nutritional and exercise regimen, that we can become functionally SUPERHUMAN!
And I too love the fantasy that just by learning how to relate to our partners or potential partners in specific ways, we can find ourselves in PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIRS!
They’re all nice fantasies.
And who knows, maybe they’re achievable, at least to one degree or another. I’m not saying they’re not.
What I am saying is that the pressure that kind of language and those kind of expectations place on normal people introduces an emotional wall that is really, really difficult to scale.
Many of these expectations are stoked by marketing. The people who create and sell self-improvement products and services know all too well that customers fall in love with language that promises them the opportunity to transcend their normal limits and experiences.
Marketers historically know the value of teasing us, telling us that we just MIGHT be able to live our fantasies…if only we “invest” in the product or service they happen to be selling.
I’m not anti-marketing or sales. Marketing and sales serve a useful purpose in our culture.
But what we need to realize is that when we live in this profit-driven world of constantly stoked expectations…it will have an effect on our mental health.
Creating an EXTRAORDINARY life sounds pretty intimidating to someone who is struggling to just get up and go to work in the morning.
Becoming SUPERHUMAN seems like an overwhelming idea for someone who has struggled off an don with their weight or chronic pain issues for years.
Being in a PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR sounds improbable to someone who struggles with social anxiety or intimacy issues.
The thing is: we don’t need to use that language of excess in how we think of or set our goals.
You don’t NEED to create an “extraordinary” life. You don’t NEED to become “superhuman.” Every relationship doesn’t NEED to be a “passionate love affair.”
You need to create a life that you like. A life that allows you the opportunity to pursue your goals and live your values— in the everyday world.
Adventures are great— but every day doesn’t need to be an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride.
Passionate love affairs are great— but every social contact doesn’t need to resemble a young adult vampire novel.
Putting pressure on yourself to create an EXTRAORDINARY life EVERY SINGLE DAY will lead to burn out. Not “can;” “will.”
Easy does it.
Don’t start by proclaiming your intention to create an EXTRAORDINARY life of SUPERHUMAN health in which you experience PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIRS!
Start by deciding, you want to feel and function 1% better today.
No more; no less.
That’s how you can wind up feeling good…and then better…and then even better.
But real progress is made step, by step, by step— with plenty of side shuffles and backward steps.
Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
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